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Leg Beat: Socks for Russell … Cole’s Sock Launch

<CS:BOLD></CS><STRONG>SOCKS FOR RUSSELL:</STRONG> Russell Corp. said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire DeSoto Mills, a manufacturer of moderate-price socks for men, women and children, for $10 million in an all-stock...

SOCKS FOR RUSSELL: Russell Corp. said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire DeSoto Mills, a manufacturer of moderate-price socks for men, women and children, for $10 million in an all-stock transaction.

Further terms were not disclosed.

DeSoto Mills, based in Ft. Payne, Ala., sells sports and casual socks under the brand names of DeSoto Players Club, Athletic Club, Performance Club and Player Performance. Socks are also sold under private label arrangements and under licensing agreements with such brands as Faded Glory, Beverly Hills Polo Club and Hytest. Annual sales are about $35 million.

The deal is expected to be completed by April 1. DeSoto will operate as a wholly owned subsidiary of Russell.

John C. Adams, Russell’s president and chief executive officer, said the acquisition will further round out the firm’s product line by supplying socks to its athletic and knit apparel divisions, as well as to its retail outlets.

Russell, headquartered in Alexander City, Ala., makes activewear and licensed sports apparel. It had sales of $930.8 million in 1993.

COLE’S SOCK LAUNCH: A Kenneth Cole line of women’s socks has been introduced for fall retailing. It is manufactured under license from the footwear and accessories designer by DML Marketing. The line features a selection of tailored thigh-highs, tights and over-the-knee, trouser and boot socks. Prices range from $36 to $120 a dozen. DML president Mark Hierbaum said he expects about $1.5 million in wholesale volume for the line’s first year. Styles include thick chenille ribbed socks, velvet thigh-highs and satin opaque, cut-and-sewn tights. The line will be distributed in department and specialty stores in the U.S. and Canada.